There was a Mississippi-flavored subplot to the New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies series this weekend, a battle of wild card contenders at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets are managed by ex-Ole Miss pitcher Mickey Callaway, the second-year skipper who made his bones as a pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. The Phillies’ pitching coach is ex-Mississippi State hurler Chris Young, who replaced the popular Rick Kranitz (now in Atlanta) during the off-season. Both Callaway and Young have been on a hot seat this season as their clubs have struggled to meet expectations. Callaway’s Mets, who climbed back into postseason contention with a midseason surge, roughed up Phillies pitching in taking the first two games of the series, 11-5 and 6-3. Young’s Phillies won Game 3 on Sunday 5-2 behind the pitching of Zach Eflin and Hector Neris. The Mets’ often leaky bullpen faltered again. Pitching also has been a sore spot for the Phils, whose staff ERA is much higher than in 2018 and who’ve yielded more home runs than all but five MLB teams. The Phillies reportedly elevated Young from an assistant position to the head coaching job because they didn’t want to lose him to another team. A star at State from 2000-02, he was drafted by Colorado and pitched six years in the minors before turning to scouting and then coaching. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to both Callaway and Young after this season, especially if both of their teams miss the playoffs. P.S. Former State standout Kendall Graveman pitched three solid innings Sunday in a Triple-A rehab assignment for the Chicago Cubs. Out since last summer following Tommy John surgery, Graveman signed as a free agent with the Cubs in the off-season with the expectation that he’d probably be out all of 2019. The 28-year-old right-hander is 23-29 with a 4.38 ERA in his big league career, most of that spent in Oakland.
About The Author
Freelance writer Mike Christensen was a newspaper sportswriter for 30 years, including 26 at the Daily News and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, and is author of the book "Of Mudcat, Boo, The Rope and Oil Can." He covered small college and minor league baseball, including the Jackson Mets, Generals, DiamondKats, Senators and Mississippi Braves, among other duties in his newspaper days. A former youth league second baseman, he is a longtime Atlanta Braves fan and collector of baseball books and cards.
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